Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is best known for her wild adventures on MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” but lately she’s been hitting a different beach as host of a new renovation show, “Beach Cabana Royale.”
So what does Polizzi know about home renovation, you might ask? In the recent past, she’s actually done her fair share of house flipping in New Jersey with her husband, Jionni LaValle, which was filmed for the FYI docuseries “Nicole & Jionni’s Shore Flip.”
But for this latest one-hour special (now streaming on Discovery+), Polizzi’s in Atlantic Beach, NY, to help (or more accurately, egg on) three competitors as they renovate cabanas for families who may adore their seaside surroundings, but aren’t all that happy with their living quarters.
As Polizzi succinctly puts it, “Their cabanas are driving them bananas.”
Once finished, these renovations are judged by “Build Me Up” star Orlando Soria and “Flipping Virgins” host Egypt Sherrod. To win, these designers need to get creative when it comes to storage and styling to make these tiny cabanas feel spacious and special. Here’s how they pull it off, and the take-home lessons you’ll be glad to know about how to add more function to a small space, along with a take-me-away vacation vibe.
Save space with sliding doors
Seamstress and small-space designer Karla Graves gives her clients a Japanese-inspired cabana with lots of clean lines and minimalist decor. While the design is beautiful, Graves knows this cabana can’t be all about style because she’ll also have to consider functionality for this family.
“With three boys, you really can’t fully be minimalist; you also have to think smart,” Graves says. “So I focused on how do we hide the storage and I focused on sliding doors.”
Graves makes sure everything slides away, from the closet (which hides the TV, a design move Polizzi highy approves of) to the shower wall.
By using sliders, Graves creates extra space in this cabana. Not only will the family get lots of storage, they’ll also get to avoid the awkwardness of wide-swinging doors. In a small space where every inch counts, this is a serious space saver.
Small spaces don’t need to have an all-white design
Woodworker and reclaim specialist Wendell Holland works with his clients to create a cabana design with an art deco style.
While many designers will advise making small spaces light and bright in order to make them seem larger, Soria says that Holland could have taken a risk with a darker color on the walls.
“Because the exterior of this building is white, I would’ve liked to see something different on the interior walls—a dark gray, a light gray,” Soria explains.
And he’s right: There are simply too many white walls, and it’s clear that a little more color would have added some personality. It just goes to show that, yes, there is such a thing as too much white, even in a small space.
Add storage wherever possible
While Holland could have skipped the white walls, he makes a smart addition to his cabana when he adds some storage beside the entrance.
There isn’t much space in this cabana, so Holland has to get creative by building a tall, skinny shelf (which Polizzi sort of helps build) that can fit in the corner. It may not be big storage, but it’s perfect for storing shoes and towels, which is exactly what this family needs.
“When I got here, they had cushions and towels hanging from the ceiling and just all over the place,” Holland says. “So what I did, I built this storage unit.”
Make sure floor-to-ceiling cabinets look finished
Delia Kenza, an interior designer, runs into a few problems with her cabana—including the uneven ceiling, which makes her new floor-to-ceiling shelving unit not quite reach the ceiling in some sections.
When Soria sees this, he thinks it makes the cabana look unfinished.
“One of the things that isn’t working for me is the cabinet stops 4 inches from the ceiling. If you would’ve just had a trim piece that goes around that just to connect that, so there wasn’t that dark shadow, I think it would look a lot more finished,” Soria says.
It’s a good tip and a great lesson in remembering the finishing details. Sometimes a bit of trim or molding can give a space that extra touch to make it feel complete.
Find a proper workspace, even in a small space
One of Kenza’s favorite features is the fold-out desk she creates for her client, who likes to catch up on work from the cabana. It’s a great way to add some functionality and turn this vacation space into a part-time office.
Of course, the judges love Kenza’s creativity.
“Opening that and seeing the hidden desk, I said, ‘ah functionality,'” Sherrod says. “You know, everything should be able to serve more than one purpose when you’re dealing with this space.”
Who won this beach-side competition?
In the end, Soria and Sherrod choose Graves as their winner! They love her Japanese-inspired space and her clever storage. Overall, it’s a great cabana with a great design. Nonetheless, all three cabanas look amazing, and go to show that even small spaces can feel functional and luxurious.
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